This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Tape No. I-4324Page
The theme of this teaching session is “The New Creation.” This is one of the great themes of the New Testament and it’s one that many Christians don’t fully understand. And consequently, they don’t appropriate all that God has made available to them. So my purpose will be to teach you about the new creation in Christ. We’ll begin with 2Corinthians 5:17 and the first part of verse 18.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself...”
I’ll not read any further there. Paul makes a very specific statement that applies to every person. If anyone is in Christ, the translation says, he is a new creation. But the words “he is” are supplied by the translators. The way Paul says it is more dramatic. If anyone is in Christ, a new creation. And you should have an exclamation mark there. There’s something exciting. If anyone is in Christ, a new creation!
And then he says a little further on, behold. That’s another word that introduces something exciting and dramatic. So, this is an exciting statement. It’s not just dry theology, it’s an exciting and wonderful revelation of what God wants to do for each of us.
Paul says if anyone is in Christ, and that really leaves only two possibilities for every person. Either you are in Christ or you are not in Christ. If you are in Christ then a new creation has taken place inside you. In Galatians 6:15 Paul returns to this theme and he says something very far reaching. Galatians 6:15:
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”
As I understand it, he’s saying the only thing that really matters in Christ is a new creation. Religious ceremonies won’t do it. Whether you’re circumcised or not circumcised, baptized or not baptized, that’s not the important question. The important question is have you become a new creation in Jesus Christ? That’s the only thing that ultimately matters. It’s not important whether we’re Anglicans or Baptists or Presbyterians or Pentecostals. What matters is are you a new creation? That’s the question, that’s the issue.
Creation is something that only God can do. Wherever we find the word create, if it’s properly used, it describes something that God has done. Man can manufacture, man can repair, man can improve, but only God can create. And the results of sin in our lives are such that it cannot be repaired, cannot be improved. There’s only one thing that will accomplish what’s needed—a creative act of God. In Psalm 51:10, a great psalm of penitence which David prayed after his sin had been revealed with Bathsheba and it had been exposed that he was guilty both of adultery and murder. He cries out to God in repentance and in agony of soul and he says:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God...”
He came face to the fact that nothing he could do would meet the need of the situation. He could improve himself, he could adjust himself, he could turn over a new leaf but that was not sufficient. It had to be a creative act of God. And that is true of every one of us. Where sin has done its damage in our lives being improved or repaired or adjusted does not meet the need. We are totally dependent upon the mercy of God for a creative act which He does when we are in Christ. When we come to God through Jesus Christ, on the basis of His sacrifice on the cross and open ourselves to God and say, “There’s nothing I can do for myself, I’m totally dependent on what you can do for me”, then in His faithfulness and in His mercy God moves in and brings about the new creation.
The fact that Paul speaks about a new creation indicates that there has been already a previous creation. And this previous creation which made the human race in the first place is described in the book of Genesis 2:7. And if we look at the description of the first creation we’ll see that in many ways it wonderfully parallels the new creation in Christ. In fact, you cannot fully understand the new creation until you have understood the first creation. So we’ll turn now to Genesis 2:7. What impresses me about the Bible is that it can say so much in so few words. Before I became a preacher I was a professional philosopher. And basically, philosophers use very long words to explain very complicated things which can’t really be understood. When I met Jesus Christ and became a new creation in Christ, very dramatically one night in an army barrack room in the British Army in World War II, when I turned to the Bible what impressed me and blessed me was that God could say such marvelous things in such short, clear, simple words. And ever since then it’s been my aim to speak simply. I haven’t always achieved it but I’ve always aimed at it. In fact, I’ve come to this conclusion concerning myself. If I can’t say it simply the reason is I don’t understand it clearly. So I work at it. This present lady that’s with me is my second wife, my first wife is with the Lord. Both of them for years have sat on the front row and listened to my preaching. I always admire them because they’ve had to listen to me so many times struggling through to get to the place of simplicity. But I work at it until I can say it simply.
So let’s turn to Genesis 2:7 which is really a very exciting verse, a very vivid verse.
“And the Lord God formed [or molded] man [or Adam]...”
You need to know that man and Adam are the same word in Hebrew. In other words, it’s a name as well as a race.
“The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”
The previous verse says that at that time it didn’t rain but a mist went up from the ground and watered the earth. So, the dust out of which the Lord God formed man was moistened dust, it was clay. Now, I just believe it happened the way that it’s described. You may not find it easy to believe that, you have to make your own decision. But I personally believe the Bible tells it exactly like it is. And when it says the Lord God, other passages of scripture—particularly the gospel of John—tell us that it was not God the Father but God the eternal Son who was manifested in human history as Jesus of Nazareth. Because, John’s gospel tells us by Him [Jesus] all things were made and without Him was not anything made that was made. We speak of God as revealed in the Bible as three persons—Father, Son and Spirit. So if I speak about the first person, that’s the Father; the second person is the Son; the third person is the Spirit. One God, three persons.
It’s very interesting, the first verse of the Bible contains the mystery of God. It says in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This doesn’t come out in the English translation, probably not in any translation. But the Hebrew word for God is plural in form. In fact, it is Elohim. And imis the plural ending like we would add s at the end of a word in English. So, the first time God is mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 1:1 it’s plural in form. But then the verb created is singular. In Hebrew verbs can be plural or singular. So we have the mystery of unity and plurality in the Godhead all in the first verse of the Bible. And when we come to the 2nd chapter of Genesis, mostly it speaks about the Lord God. That would be Jehovah Elohim. And I believe in this case it’s referring to the second person of the Godhead, the Son of God, the eternal Son revealed in human history many, many centuries later as Jesus of Nazareth.
And so, the way I picture it is this—and you be patient with me and if you can’t see it this way don’t get upset with me. I picture this divine, glorious, holy person, the Son of God, the Lord God, and there in that perfect setting in the garden that had not yet been marred by sin He kneels down and He takes clay and He molds a perfect figure of a man. One of the interesting things about the revelation of God in the Bible is every time He deals with man He has to stoop. So to create man He stooped, He kneeled. And, He formed this perfect body of clay. No human sculptor has ever formed any body as perfect as that, not even Michelangelo. But it was just clay, it was lifeless. And then He stooped lower still and He put His divine lips against the lips of clay and His divine nostrils against the nostrils of clay. And it says He breathed into him the breath of life.
Now, I didn’t intend to get involved so much in Hebrew but it’s interesting and I believe I can help you to understand. Hebrew is one of those languages—I don’t know anything about Chinese. If I did, I’d use those examples. But Hebrew is one of those languages where the sound of a word depicts the thing that’s described. Can you understand? For instance, an earthquake is ra-a-ash. Thunder is ra-a-am. Can you hear the thunder in that? The sound of a bell is silsel. And many other languages, English has it to a certain extent. Tinkle is the same. But the word for breathe, this is what I’m going to come to, is a word that’s got a P sound and then it’s got a sound that we don’t have in English. In Hebrew it’s called het. It’s a sound made in the throat, it’s an outgoing guttural breath. I would guess maybe you have it in Chinese, I don’t know. Lots of languages have it but the English don’t. Now, the Scottish people do, you see. They say loch which English people say lock. See? It’s quite different.
Anyhow, this sound—and I have to be careful here because of the sound system—this is the word. Viapach. Can you hear that? First of all, there’s the explosion of the P sound and then there’s the long outgoing breath of the hetsound. Viapach. And what I want to emphasize is God put all of Himself into that breath. He breathed Himself into that man. All the energy of God was released in that breath. And the Spirit of life from God entered that clay body and the most wonderful transformation took place. The clay body became a living human being. Even if we don’t talk about the inner part of man, just the outer change, he had eyes that could see, nostrils that could smell, a heart that beat. Doctors tell us that in one human eye there are more than three million working parts. What created a human eye? I could never believe that such a thing would happen by accident. That seems to me totally incredible. Even when I was a philosopher I couldn’t believe that. Think about that. The very Spirit of God Himself breathed in, transformed clay into a living body. None of us can understand all the complexities of a human body. The more doctors learn the more complicated becomes.
What was the source of all that, where did it begin? It began with the Spirit of God breathed into the clay. That’s how we came about. You see, as a philosopher I studied all sorts of theories about the origin of man and the origin of the universe. But none of them really made sense. When I met the Lord and then began to read the Bible, the Bible explained me to myself. It made sense. And it’s gone on doing that for nearly 50 years now.
So, just think about that. What’s the real source of your body? It’s the Spirit of God, the creative Spirit of God. See, that makes divine healing very logical because when your watch goes wrong you don’t take it to the bootmaker. To whom do you take it? To the watchmaker. When your body goes wrong where do you go with it? Why not go to the body maker? He’s the one. I mean, I thank God for doctors, I’m not in any sense saying we don’t need doctors. But the ultimate one who has the real power over every area of your body is the one who created you. I would say, if you’re a Christian, go to the doctor but never stop short at the doctor. Trust the doctor to be the instrument of God Himself. Or maybe, in many cases you just pray and you’re instantly healed or you’re gradually healed. But what I want to say is if this is a correct account of man’s creation, then going to God for the healing of your body is not fanaticism, it’s logic. See, I was a professional logician. One of the things that’s blessed me about the Bible is it’s the most logical book in the world. Never feel you need to apologize to anybody for believing the Bible. I would say its logic is perfect.
So here we have man created. In 1Thessalonians 5:23, speaking about total man, Paul says:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify us completely [or make us completely holy, and then he explains]; and my our whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless...”
So total man consists of three elements—spirit, soul and body. If you go back to the act of creation, the inbreathed Spirit came from God, came from above. The body of clay came from beneath. And the union of Spirit and body produced a living soul. The soul is the individual. The soul is the thing in you that says I, I want, I like, I feel, I think, I believe, I choose. That’s the soul. That’s why every soul settles its own destiny because it’s the soul that has the responsibility to make the choice. So, a man is spirit from above, soul and body from beneath.
And you see, this explains a lot, in a way, in our experience because there’s something in us that wants to go upward but there’s something in us that pulls us downwards. You’ve experienced that, every one of you, at some time in your life. The philosopher Plato described it this way. It’s just a picture, he said the chariot of the soul has two horses. One is white, one is black. The white one always wants to go up, the black one always wants to go down. So in a sense, we can understand the conflict that every one of us experiences at some time. It’s a conflict between that which is from above and that which is from below. And that explains us to ourselves.
It also says in the story of the creation God made man in His own likeness. And the Bible, as I’ve already said, reveals a triune God, three in one—Father, Son, Spirit. It also reveals a triune man—spirit, soul, body. So we have a triune man created in the likeness of a triune God.
Unfortunately, man disobeyed God. He turned away from God in disobedience and rebellion. The one single word the Bible uses to describe that is sin. Another very interesting thing about the Bible is that it’s really the only source of the revelation of human problems. Outside of the Bible there is no real grasp of the nature of sin. The Bible not only reveals the problem, thank God it reveals the solution. But outside of the Bible there is no real getting to the root of human problems. The root of human problems is all have sinned.
And the only remedy for sin is that which the Bible prescribes. It diagnoses the problem, it prescribes the cure. But man turned away from God in disobedience. His soul made the wrong decision. He went in the wrong direction. And the result was it affected every part of his being, his spirit, his soul and his body.
Let me say just a simple thing to think of. The spirit is from above. The spirit is God conscious. It’s the part of us that can relate directly to God. The soul is self conscious. The soul is what uses the word I. I am, I feel, I want, I hurt. Help me, look at me, I’m important. The body is world conscious. Through the five senses the body relates to the world around us.
Now, when man sinned each part of him was affected—the spirit, the soul and the body. The result in man’s spirit was that it was cut off from relationship to God and it became dead. When we are in sin we are spiritually dead to God. We look for a moment in Genesis 2:17 the Lord warned man if he disobeyed and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would die. It’s here in Genesis 2:17, God is speaking:
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it. For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Notice God says in the day you eat of it you will die. Adam did not die physically for something like 900 years but he died spiritually. He was cut off from the life of God.
In the epistle to the Ephesians Paul describes this. Ephesians 2:1. It’s only part of a sentence but it’s all we need to read:
“And you God made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins...”
Not physically dead but spiritually dead. Cut off from God by our trespasses, our acts of disobedience, and our sin. Ephesians 2:1.
And then in Ephesians 4:17 and following, Paul describes the situation of those who are dead in sin. And that description applies to every one of us here. At some time or another all of us were in this condition. Ephesians 4:17:
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk [or the rest of the nations], in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God [cut off from the life of God], because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to licentiousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
That’s a terrible description but it’s true of every person outside of Christ. By our trespasses and our sins we’ve been cut off from the life of God, we are in ignorance, we’re in darkness, we don’t know the root of our own problems, we don’t know the way out of our darkness. And, we have lost the ability to feel. You’re looking at somebody right now who can say of himself that exactly describes me. For the first 24 years of my life that’s how I lived. Let me say—I hope it will not be misunderstood—I was a good Anglican. I had been through all the ceremonies of the Anglican Church. And this is no criticism of the Anglican Church but those ceremonies could not bring about the new creation. Understand what I was saying before? It’s not a ceremony, it’s a creative act of God we need. Nothing less will do. If the ceremony becomes the channel of God’s creative act, that’s wonderful. But in my case it didn’t.
So that’s the condition of the spirit. Cut off from God, alienated, past feeling, dead.
The soul, the result in the soul I would say is rebellion. Every one of us has in us a rebel. You may or may not have come to grips with the problem but he’s there. There’s a rebel that goes his own way, wants to do his own thing and is very, very self-centered. If we go back to Ephesians 2 we just see a description of the rebellious soul. We’re just going on from where we left off, Ephesians 21 spoke about being dead in the spirit. Now it says about the soul, verses 2 and 3:
“...in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”
Who is the prince of the power of the air? Satan, that’s right. And Satan has authority over all who are in rebellion against God. In the book of Job, chapter 41, there’s the complete chapter that’s devoted to a picture of a sea monster called Leviathan, which is another picture of Satan. And the last verse of that chapter says he is king over all the children of pride. So when we are proud, rebellious, self-assertive, going our own way, we are under the dominion of Satan. He’s the spirit who is now working in all the sons of disobedience and all those whose souls are in rebellion against God.
And then Paul continues in the next verse:
“Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves...”
We all includes the apostle Paul, all the apostles, all preachers, all pastors, all evangelists, all people. We all were once in this condition until the new creation.
“Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desire of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
There are no exceptions. We were all like that in our ignorance, in our darkness, in our rebellion, going our own way, doing our own things. And most of us quite unaware of our real condition. I know for my own part for at least 10 years before I met the Lord I was looking desperately for something to satisfy because I wasn’t satisfied. Academically I was very successful. If you know anything about the British education system, I was a scholar of Eton, scholar of King’s College, Cambridge. At the age of 24 I was elected into a fellowship in King’s College, Cambridge. Academically I had reached the top. But inside I was dissatisfied. I knew there must be something more and I didn’t know where it was. I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know how to find it. And although I was so privileged in my intellectual associations, I really didn’t have anybody around me to tell me. There was nobody who could tell me what I was looking for. I looked everywhere. I was highbrow, I went to the ballet and to the opera. I was lowbrow, I went to the nightclubs and all sorts of other places I won’t describe. I tried everything, I had no scruples. I made up my mind either you believe all the Ten Commandments or you didn’t believe any of them. And I decided they were not for me. And the longer I searched and the more I looked the more dissatisfied I became. I did not know, I was in darkness. I was groping. I was cut off.
And then the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to me very definitely, very personally. And immediately I knew that’s what I’d been looking for all my life. And there are uncounted millions like that in the world today. It’s our responsibility as Christians at least to be able to tell them how to find what they’re looking for. If they don’t want it then that’s their problem. But it’s our responsibility to be able to say this is what you’ve been looking for all your life and this is how you find it.
Now, the third area of man, the body, was also affected by sin and you can describe the results in the human body in one single word which is corrupt or corruptible. The body became subject to decay, to getting old, to wrinkles, to stiff joints, to baldness, to sickness. And ultimately what’s the end of all that? What’s the end? Death, that’s right. If we look at just one sentence in Ephesians 4:22, and we need to return to this verse later. Paul says:
“Put off concerning your former conduct the old man, which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts...”
So every one of us lives in a corruptible body. Lots of people fight this. They try to act as if it weren’t true. They’ll dress up, they’ll do all sorts of things to conceal from themselves the fact that their body is decaying. But they can’t change the fact.
So to sum it up, the result of sin in total human personality is this way. The spirit becomes dead, cut off from the source of its life which is God. The soul becomes a rebel. The body becomes subject to decay or corruption. That can only be changed in one way, by the new creation.
Now we’ve looked at the old creation, it will make much more sense if we look at the new creation. There is one particular passage in the New Testament which describes the new creation and how it took place. It’s in John 20:19–22. This is the description of the evening of Resurrection Sunday. It describes the first appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples after He had risen from the dead. This is what it says:
“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week [that’s what we call Sunday], when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them, Peace be with you. And when He had said this He showed them His hands and His side.”
Why did he do that? He wanted to convince them that they were looking at the same body that they had seen pierced and nailed to the tree. So He showed them the evidence of the crucifixion in His body so that they would know for sure this was not somebody different, this was the same person they had seen die on the cross.
Then it says:
“Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you; as the Father has sent me, I also send you.”
He commissioned them to be His messengers to go out into the world. And then He did something.
“And when He had said this He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Now I want you to think back to the first creation, the very same person, the second person of the Godhead had knelt beside that body of clay and breathed into it the breath of life and man became alive. Now here He is the same person. He has been through death and hell and the grave. He’s come out totally victorious and He stands in front of His disciples and He breathes into them and says receive the Holy Spirit. Can you see the parallel between the first creation and the new creation? The word that’s used in Greek for “to breathe into” is used in secular Greek for a flute player breathing into the mouth of his flute. Now I cannot prove this, everybody is free to make their own decision. But it seems to me that Jesus did not just stand and breathe at them but that He went up to each of them and breathed into them. He put His lips against their lips and breathed in and said receive holy breath. The same Greek word means spirit and breath. And when that happened they were born again. A new creation took place.
But we need to appreciate the fullness of what took place. In the garden in the first creation He breathed into them divine life. But in the upper room on Resurrection Sunday He breathed into them a life that had conquered sin, death, hell, the grave and Satan. A totally victorious life. A life that could not be defeated, a life that could not be destroyed, a life that nothing Satan could do could ever affect. And that is the new creation. That’s what we receive when we meet Jesus.
I am aware that Jesus does not walk into the room every time in visible form and breathe into us. But I am convinced that every person who is truly born again must have a personal face to face confrontation with Jesus. Not visibly. I know this happened to me. I didn’t understand salvation, I didn’t know anything about being born again. I just decided to pray one night because I had come to a place of desperation. I just did not understand. It was about 11:00 o’clock at night in an army barrack room, I was the only person awake. For about one hour I couldn’t pray. I just didn’t now what to pray. I didn’t know whom I was praying to, I didn’t know what to say. And then I was aware that there was a person there, I never saw Him. But His presence caused a tremendous spiritual power to come over me and I was cast on the floor. For the next hour the Spirit of God flowed into me and through me and out of me. I didn’t pray a prayer of salvation, I didn’t understand how to be saved but I met Jesus. And the next day I was a totally different person. It took me months to discover all the changes that had taken place in me in that one night. And those changes have lasted for almost 50 years. So that’s not a temporary emotional experience.
I didn’t know to say I was born again, I had to learn the religious language. But I had an encounter with Jesus. I want to say this right. You can join the church and not be changed. I’m afraid some churches are full of people who have joined and never been changed. But, you cannot meet Jesus and stay the same. Salvation is not just saying a prayer or signing a card. Salvation is a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, it can be very quiet, it can be very simple. It can take place at the altar of a church, it can take place in any kind of setting. God is no respecter of settings or places. But there has to be that real vital change. There has to be that new life that is greater than anything that can ever come against us.
I was saved in the British Army. And the British Army is not a very godly set of people, to say the least. I thought now I’m a Christian, God will take me out of the army. He didn’t, He left me there another five years. He showed me that I could be a Christian in the army. The same men who had seen me living a very sinful life saw me leading a totally different life. I wasn’t responsible for the change, I could not have brought the change about. Only Jesus could do that. But I was willing, I came to the end of my own struggles trying to reason it out and work it out, solve life’s problems. And when I came to the end of myself and met Him the change took place. If any man is in Christ, a new creation, exclamation mark. Behold, old things have passed away, all things have become new, and all things are from God. The new creation is not a patched up job, it’s not God doing a little repair here and there. It’s a totally new beginning and it has only one source. That source is God Himself.
Let’s look briefly at the changes that take place in human personality as a result of the new creation, the new birth, salvation. First of all, the spirit is made alive. Colossians 2:13. Paul is writing to Christians and says:
“You being dead in your trespass and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God has made alive...”
Alive in the Spirit. The spirit is reunited with God the source of its life. New life comes into the spirit. It was separated by sin, now it’s reunited.
The soul is reconciled. The rebel finds peace. That word is used in the passage from 2Corinthians 5 that we looked at. 2Corinthians 5, and I’ll read these words again.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Notice not some things, it’s all things. It’s not partly a new beginning, it’s a totally new beginning. The old is corrupt, God doesn’t mess around with it. He starts something new.
And then it says:
“Now all things are of God...”
The whole of the new creation is from God. And then it says:
“...who has reconciled us to Himself.”
So that rebel in you and me through the new creation is reconciled to God. Now no longer do we go our own way, set our own standards, please ourselves, live our own life. Now we’re living to please the Lord. We may make many mistakes, we may have to fall and be picked up many times but our motivation is to please the Lord, not to go our own way, not to do our own thing.
And then the body receives divine life within from the Holy Spirit. See, the Spirit of God is the source of physical life. It’s very important to remember that. Romans 8:11, Paul says:
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead shall also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
So when we are reconciled with Christ, when we receive the Holy Spirit our bodies become temples of the Spirit of God. Then that Spirit dwelling in us imparts the life of God. It’s still a mortal body, it’s still going to die, but there’s something in it that is more powerful than sickness and sin and all the forces that come against us. See? God has a specific life span for every one of us. It’s God’s purpose that we live out our full life span. God promised Israel in Exodus 23, “I will give you a full life span.” The source of that life span is the Holy Spirit. But we have to learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, we have to learn how to yield to the Holy Spirit. I am persuaded many Christians die before their time because we haven’t all learned how to yield to the Holy Spirit, how to let Him control our physical bodies.
Those are the three changes. The spirit is made alive, the soul is reconciled, and the body receives divine life through the Holy Spirit.
I would say, going back to the experience of the apostles in the upper room, they passed from what I call Old Testament salvation to New Testament salvation. Romans 10:9, Paul tells us what we must do to enter New Testament salvation.
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
So what are the two simple requirements? To confess Jesus as Lord, to believe that God has raised Him from the dead. On that Resurrection Sunday evening, for the first time the disciples believed that God had raised Jesus from the dead. They had already confessed Him as Lord. They passed from Old Testament salvation to New Testament salvation. Old Testament salvation looked forward through all sorts of prophecies and types and shadows to something that was yet to be done. New Testament salvation looks back to a finished work of redemption by Jesus on the cross. That’s the dividing line.
Now, before I go further—well, I can’t stop here. Let’s turn to 1 John 5 for a moment. 1 John 5:4:
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.”
And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith. You understand, when we receive this divine life from the resurrected Christ, it’s undefeatable. There’s nothing in the universe that can defeat us because it’s the life that’s defeated Satan, sin, death, hell and the grave. You see, if born again Christians would realize what we have we would turn the world upside down. We are undefeatable.
I have five words that I use for the life of the born again Christian. It is divine life, it’s God’s life. It is eternal life, not just something in time, it’s eternal. It’s incorruptible life. It’s undefeatable life. And it’s indestructible life. I’d like you to say those words after me and think about what you have in you if you’re a born again Christian. All right?
“Divine life. Eternal life. Incorruptible life. Undefeatable life. Indestructible life.”
You really believe that? Then you know what you have to do? You have to say thank you. Not to me but to the Lord. Thank you, thank you, Lord. Let’s take a moment or two to thank Him. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord Jesus. See, the simplest expression of faith is saying thank you. You have to express your faith somewhere or it’s not real.
Now we just have a few moments longer and I want to go to the climax. I wonder how many of you would suggest what is the climax, the final end of the Christian life? Anybody. You can’t be more than wrong. How many of you believe it’s going to happen? It’s wonderful to go to heaven, that’s not the end. What is the end? That’s right, resurrection. Can we say that word? Resurrection. Let’s say it again. Resurrection. See, a lot of Christians have got the idea that going to heaven is the end. Well, it’s wonderful to know that you’re ready to go to heaven. That’s marvelous but heaven is just a stage on the journey, it’s not the end. The end is when the Lord Jesus comes our bodies are called forth out of the grave; spirit, soul and body are reunited and we are complete, we’re absolutely what we ought to be. Then the new creation is complete.
Let’s look at the words of Paul for a moment, I want you to see in Philippians 3 Paul’s goal. It was not heaven, it was resurrection. Philippians 3, we’ll begin at verse 8.
“But indeed I also count all things lost for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the Law, but that which is through the faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
What was his goal? The resurrection from the dead. And then he goes on to say:
“Not that I have already attained, or have already perfected, but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do; forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
You see what his goal was? Resurrection. That’s logical because when my body is still in the grave, the new creation is far from complete. The new creation involves spirit, soul and body. But when Jesus comes and my body is called forth out of the tomb, my spirit and soul are reunited with my body and I rise up perfect. That’s the goal of the new creation.
Let me just read some words to you later on in Philippians 3, verses 20–21:
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the savior, the Lord Jesus Christ...”
Are you eagerly waiting for the savior?
“...who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
So when Jesus comes and we see Him, the new creation will be completed by the transformation of our body. And we will have a body like that of the Lord. You see, Paul says here the present body is a body of humiliation. It’s a judgment on us for being rebels. And no matter how much care we may take of it and how nicely we may feed it, it continually reminds us we are humiliated. It doesn’t matter what expensive food you eat; sooner or later you’re going to have take a trip to the toilet. Is that right? That’s right. How many people are dignified there? Not many.
No matter what wonderful, beautiful clothes you wear; you walk a little bit in this hot climate and you begin to perspire or sweat. All right? All that is humiliating you, it’s reminding you this isn’t the end, this is the result of God’s judgment on our sins. But when Jesus comes we’re delivered from that body of humiliation, we receive a body like His. He’s able to change even this body of ours into a body like His. That’s the goal of the Christian life.
Now let me close by asking you just two questions, very important. First of all, have you experienced the new creation. Not have you been religious but have you experienced the new creation?
And secondly, if you have experienced the new creation, are your priorities right? Can you say like Paul, forgetting the things behind, reaching forth to the things before, I press toward the mark for the resurrection. Not as though I’ve already attained. If Paul hadn’t already attained then neither you nor I have.
I want you to consider those questions just briefly for a moment. Have you experienced the new creation? If not, you may tonight. All you have to do is come to the end of yourself, come to Jesus. Give yourself into His hands and say, “Lord, make me what you want me to be.”